A lot of legendary moments in country music have happened at the American Legion Post #82 in Nashville after the once-forgotten spot in the world was revitalized by young neotraditional country performers looking for somewhere to play. It’s since become a hot spot, especially around Honky Tonk Tuesdays that are a staple of the Nashville country music diet. Now another legendary moment has been logged on the register.
As part of AmericanaFest happening this week in Nashville, Hank Williams Jr. made an unannounced surprise performance at the American Legion post on Thursday evening, September 15th, helping to promote his new blues album Rich White Honky Blues released on Dan Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound record label … or should we say, Thunderhead Hawkins made an appearance, since that’s Hank’s blues music alter ego.
Backing Hank Jr. up was a badass blues band that included Dan Auerbach himself. Patrick Carney also jumped behind the drum set for the final song of the 25-minute set that started around 6:30 pm. Dan Auerbach and The Black Keys also played a few songs afterwards, which for the right audience may have been just as exciting or more. Nikki Lane also played before Hank Jr. to warm the stage up.
With the way Hank Jr. rarely plays any shows these days—maybe 15 or so a year—the Country Music Hall of Famer playing a tiny room like the American Legion is definitely rare treat. He also played another popup show there in June, right before the new record came out.
Those who know Hank Williams Jr., they know that he’s always considered the blues as the ultimate foundation to his sound, not dissimilar to his famous father, who was taught to play guitar by a local blues performer named Rufus “Tee-Tot” Payne.
“The blues is where it all comes from,” says Williams. “It’s the start of everything musical in my family; everything starts with Tee-Tot and flows from there. I’ve always flirted with this stripped back blues—all the way back to the ‘80s. But I finally made an album that’s just that, and I like it.”
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